Response to ‘Labor for a Just Palestine’ Final Report on their visit to the Palestinian Territories (West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza), Israel and Lebanon from 1 March – 16 March 2010 .
I don’t understand why the ‘Labor for a Just Palestine’ report (at p2) says “the vast majority of the (separation) wall does not follow the pre-1967 “Green Line”.
Especially since later in the report (at p6) the report refers to the “expansion of Israel beyond its legitimate 1967 borders”.
And in the same paragraph it refers to “Israel’s long term security interests”.
Taken together, these conclusions in the report imply that the test for ‘a solution’ is ‘Israel’s security’ behind pre-1967 borders.
Why should the ‘Labor for a Just Palestine’ report set down borders? Why should Palestinians accept a wall? Let alone a wall that follows some arbitrary line or border? Do Palestinians accept this? If so, why have Palestinians resisted the wall with such vigour and courage?
Since the setting up of the Green Line in the 1949 armistice, ‘Israel’s security’ has meant terror for Palestinians.
Those that did not know this before Gaza, know it now.
Why should a wall exist?
Are not all settlements behind walls on another’s land a crime, no matter when they were put up? Why is a settler state in Palestine in the 21st century so abhorrent? If not because of the horrors of settler states in Southern Africa in the 20th or in Australia during the 19th century.
Why does ‘Labor for a Just Palestine’ imply the illusion of ‘two states’ by reference to the Green Line and pre-1967 borders? Especially when the same report anoints Israel’s claim as ‘legitimate’ (at p6).
When taken in context, surely the “extreme situation in the Palestinian town of Qalqilya” which is “almost entirely enclosed by the Wall” is reason enough to demonstrate that ‘two-states’ is inhumane and non-viable.
‘Labor for a Just Palestine’ makes only some mention of the extreme poverty of Palestinians throughout the region that you visited …what about Southern Lebanon? How is the poverty there exempt?
Your report does mention Palestinian refugee camp of Bouj al Barajneh in Beirut. The report makes reference to the right-of-return of refugees but two paragraphs further on says that this is ‘impractical’(p5).
If 20,000 people can live inside 2 sq km in Bouj al Barajneh why can’t 4 million refugees have the right to return home to Palestine? How is the latter any less practical?
US backed Israeli occupation of Lebanon brought about poverty.
UN partition brought about occupation of Palestine.
This made Palestinians refugees in their own land.
Why say Palestinians “would gladly accept resettlement in a third country” (p5)?
Did you ask Palestinians how practical this re-location was when compared with ‘right-of-return’?
Today Israeli planes fly-over Lebanon, unchallenged by any force, these Israeli pilots use sonic booms and screaming jets engines to make terror a daily event for Lebanese and Palestinians on the ground. Why leave that out of the report? Christian Lebanese concede that the only reason Israel does not bomb Lebanon is because of Israeli government’s fear of Hezbollah rockets. Lebanese security, such as it is, lies not in the hands of the Lebanese army nor in the UN, it lies with Hezbollah’s military capability.
Why does the report attach significance to the 1967 borders?
Why are the borders before the ‘six-day-war’ more significant than the 1948 borders before UN partition?
The authors of the report know that Zionist claims over Palestine predate Australian Labor Government’s support of UN partition establishing Israel. Going back further in history, Zionist claims increased in 1917 [Balfour declaration] from what they were in 1896 [beginnings of Zionism in Europe]. Their claims of Palestinian land increased in 1936 [large arrivals of refugees to Palestine as fascism spread throughout Europe] from what they were in 1917 when granted access to Palestine by Lord Balfour. Zionist claims and terror gangs (the Irgun and Haganah) increased right up till European guilt at the holocaust led to UN partition and the the state of Israel. A partition only one year after British partition of India led to the loss of one million lives.
You know that Israel borders widened by military conquest since 1948 with the UN unwilling or unable to restrain them. David, you know because you were a UN soldier in Lebanon. Wasn’t it the UN partition of Palestine in 1948 that led to continuous ‘al Nakba’ for Palestinian people.
Is ‘Labor for a Just Palestine’ asking that Palestinians accept the principle that to the victor belong the spoils?
The report says “it is Hamas who benefits from the blockade (of Gaza)” surely blaming political organisations like Hamas is unfair.
No Palestinian benefits from the Israeli military blockade of Gaza or from Israel’s construction of the Wall.
The report by ‘Labor for a Just Palestine’ mentions their meetings with the
Palestinian Union Federations on the recent Union Aid Abroad APHEDA tour of . Your report supports their call for Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions against Israel.
At the same time ‘Labor for a Just Palestine’ calls for UN observer status over holy sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron and ‘to ensure safe and secure access for everyone’. What capacity has the UN to carry out such a task? Is the UN capable of making its own school in Gaza safe from Israeli bombing? Will the Australian Labor Government step in and secure the lives of school children if the UN fails again?
Labor for a Just Palestine says “the Palestinian economy will remain severally (sic) restricted as will the ability of the Palestinian Authority to operate on behalf of its people.”
Surely it is Palestinian people who decide who represents them and what form their political resistance against occupation takes?
‘Labor for a Just Palestine’ say ‘we believe that both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to live in peace and security within internationally accepted borders with United Nations Resolutions.’
What does the ‘internationally accepted borders’ referred to in the report mean? What UN resolution has Israel ever obeyed? What UN resolution over Israel have members states like the US, Britain or Australia ever enforced to protect the lives of Palestinians?
The report makes the unsupported claim that the vast majority of Palestinians want their own independent state alongside Israel.
How is this possible with the 4th largest army in the world ten minutes drive away? An army resourced and backed by the US? And supported by the Australian Government.
At page 6 the report states:
We were unsure what to expect on entering Gaza (the three members of the group – born in Australia – with Arabic sounding names were denied entry by the Israeli security without explanation).
The people who were refused entry did not have ‘arabic sounding’ names the people have arabic names and this is the reason they were refused entry to Gaza . The refusal was a racist refusal by Israeli authorities. To try to make out it was anything less or to confuse matters by failure to recognise the identity and culture of the people who went all that way to see first hand what the Israeli state had done to their arab brothers and sisters is to throw into doubt the understanding or perception of the Labor group. We should not bow to the racists, or excuse their refusals or pardon them of their crimes. The Israeli military have no credence, no honesty they are murderers and they will do anything to stop their crimes being exposed by arab australians or anyone else.
Prior to leaving for Palestine the ‘Labor for a Just Palestine’ group organised a public meeting at the Queensland Parliamentary annex which I attended and recorded. The purpose of the meeting was to drum up support for a ‘two state solution’. For example each of the people invited to speak on the platform said they endorsed a ‘two state solution’. I have reported the statements made at that public meeting at A ‘two-state solution’ to the Israel-Palestine conflict?
Then the Labor for a Just Palestine went on their solidarity tour. What they saw did not change their pre-conceived view. The ‘facts on the ground’ made no change to the views they had expressed prior to leaving. Why is that?
Taken together the views expressed by L4AJP are a defense of a solution long since proven unjust and impossible — a tired voice from a past that events in Palestine have challenged and found wanting.
Worse still, the views are presented in a way that claims to be representative of the views of many voices, both here and there — but when the many do speak out in anger against lies and distortions — overcoming fear — their views are distorted, attacked as being ‘radical’ or ‘militant’ and, worst of all, ignored.
I wonder what the rest of the people on the APHEDA tour of Palestine learnt from their trip.This report says that there were 14 participants in all and the L4AJP numbered only three, so other observations and views are likely.
Do their perceptions and conclusions coincide with this report?
“And in the month of March come the silken shadows (and without shadows the invaders). The birds come mysterious as the confessions of girls. Five girls conceal a wheatfield under their braids. They read the first words of a song about the vines of Hebron. They write five letters: Long may my country live. Five girls at the door of a primary school break like mirrors…” — Mahmoud Darwish
13 April 2010